Last night my house received a phone call. It was from my public high school, the message contained information about a recent incident that happened at my school. Apparently someone had threatened, on social media, to shoot up my school. I’ll admit at the time I was a bit frightened. I have heard stories about school shootings before but the reality that it could happened to me, to my school was something that hadn’t even crossed my mind. It's not that I thought my school was just some safe paradise or anything. It’s just hard to believe that something like that could actually happen. I’ve heard the stories. I know what happens, school shootings will change you forever. Physically? Maybe, but mentally, definitely. They say you will never forget a traumatic event; it will always be there. Somewhere it will be carved into the back of your brain for the rest of your life.
Just today I got a notifying email from my school reporting about the ‘incident’ that happened over the weekend. Apparently police were notified about the threats online and an investigation began. Then a fourteen year old from the local public middle school called up the police to tell them that he was the culprit and that it was all meant to be a joke.
When I had read what happened and the details to this story sunk into my mind I’m not sure what I was more shocked about, the fact that it was all a joke or the fact that I wasn’t even surprised that it was a joke. It’s not like the kids at my school are all psychopaths. I know there are good kids at my high school, but the few who are not always seem to affect my school the greatest. Truthfully and sadly, this isn’t the first time a joke similar to this has been taken too far. I always ask myself, “what about this, is so funny?” Why would causing fear in people be so funny? You may have just caused someone to relieve the worst moment in their life.
I write all of this to conclude that social media is a weapon. Yes, social media can be fun. You can keep connected with friends, say things you don’t really mean and do things that you’d never do in the real world. But social media treads very close to the sting of reality and if a joke is taken too far on social media it will not be overlooked. Do not think that social media is some barrier that will protect you from the outside world. Do not think that typing things on your keyboard is different from saying it out loud yourself. So I urge you all, to please, please, be careful with what you say and do on social media. And that jokes are meant to be harmless, not PTSD triggers.